Page images
PDF
EPUB

If I could further expand on that. Although, I clearly believe the United States is way out in front, we do participate with several other countries both on a bilateral and on a multinational basis to exchange information, to insure that we are providing to the appropriate people the questions, the answers, the technology that we have developed. I think we have learned a great deal as a part of our participation in those agreements. Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you. I'll have further questions about the assessments and how you work with foreign governments and the problem of access to airports, but my time has expired. I call on the gentleman from New York, Mr. Molinari. Mr. MoLINARI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have to leave in a little bit, but I do have a couple of questions I would like to ask. In the testimony that was provided to the subcommittee by the Air Transport Association, they have strongly suggested that more of FAA security resources and personnel be dedicated to high risk airports overseas. What is your response to that recommendation? Mr. BELGER. I'm very much aware of that recommendation. I am sensitive to it. We are in the process of increasing our staffing this year by about 50-some positions. Our fiscal year 1990 budget request includes a request for an additional 120 positions in our security program. We obviously are pleased by that. We are taking a very, very hard look at the proper locations for these additional individuals. I think we should also keep in mind, though, that we have the flexibility and, in fact, exercise it whenever we need to, to use our workforce wherever the priorities might be. In the past several months we have conducted a large number of special inspections in Europe and the Middle East. We have used our inspectors from the United States to complement the small staff that we have in Europe. We clearly need to make the decision that our resources are in the proper location to do the best good. Mr. MoLINARI. I’m not sure whether that means that you agree with the ATA's recommendations or agree in part. Let me ask it in another fashion: is there some portion of their recommendation that you do not agree with? Mr. BELGER. Certainly not in terms of intent. We would have to talk about the degree of how many people obviously, but I certainly agree with the philosophy, the logic of having our security inspectors in the locations where they can be of the most value. Mr. MoLINARI. Under the Foreign Airport Security Act of 1985, DOT must notify the public if deficiencies are found in the security at a foreign airport and not corrected in 90 days. How many public notices has DOT issued under this law? Mr. BELGER. One. That process has proceeded to that point only On Ce. Mr. MoLINARI. Which case was that? Mr. BELGER. That was in the Philippines. Mr. MoLINARI. Can we—go ahead, I'm sorry. Mr. BELGER. When the public notice was made, in a matter of a very short period of time the corrections were made. We were satisfied that security procedures were altered—corrected I should say—and the advisory was lifted.

Mr. MOLINARI. Do we assume from that that all foreign airports are safe and secure for our travelers? Mr. BELGER. There are no advisories in existence now. I think we could assume that in the course of our assessments we will continue to apply the international standards. If an airport's security procedures do not measure up to those standards, we have no hesitancy in implementing the process. Mr. MoLINARI. I have one further question at this point. Could somebody bring this down to the table? Mr. BELGER. I have a copy of that. Mr. MoLINARI. You have a copy? Mr. BELGER. Yes, sir. Mr. MolinaRI. All right. I’m a little confused in looking at this chart which is labeled “Federal Aviation Administration Security Bulletin Process.” This details the various steps for sources of threat information and then the analysis of and processing of that information, and then finally a determination along the line as to whether it's considered—on the chart we say “travel advisory.” Wherein would you have high level risk inserted in that chart if you found that to be the case? Mr. BELGER. If I could just go through the process briefly in terms of how the FAA receives and assesses information, and I will then answer your question specifically. Mr. MolinaRI. Okay. Mr. BELGER. I would like to do this with the clear commitment from the FAA and from the Secretary of Transportation that there still are a lot of remaining questions, as I said earlier, about the collection, analysis, and dissemination of this type of information. That's precisely why the Secretary has his own personal team looking at it. h Let me just go through the process and then answer your question without getting into a lot more detail. r The FAA is not an intelligence-gathering organization. We receive the information from various other sources. We do have the capability, very professional capability, to assess and analyze that information as it pertains to aviation. We would obviously look at the intentions and the capabilities of certain groups who might be brought to our attention. We would then work with the other Government organizations, to assess the credibility of that information. It is our underlying, paramount concern in the FAA to provide to the airlines as much information as we possibly can, to give them all of the tools, all of the information, to allow them to do the best job possible in detecting these types of sophisticated devices that we're talking about. When we receive information which can be disseminated to the airlines, we have a very defined process in which we do that. It goes to the U.S. airlines, it goes to the Air Transport Association, to other Government agencies, and also to the State Department, as the ambassador explained earlier, for further transmission to the embassies and then coordination with the foreign host governments. Whether it is this type of threat information which we receive from various sources or whether it is the over 600 bomb threats that we might be aware of every year, they are all serious. We take every one of them seriously. In the case of those over 600 bomb threats, if that threat is specific to an air carrier, to a flight, we require that the air carriers do certain things. That's the overriding point that I would like to leave, is that they are all serious. They are all assessed. There is some action taken with every single piece of information that we receive. It is an assessment by professionals as to what action ought to be taken. Mr. MoLINARI. Just one last question, if I may. Before a plane takes off, the pilot does an around-the-plane check. I assume that a portion of that check has some bearing on security. Would you agree with that? Mr. BELGER. Clearly, I think the pilot would look for ways that the aircraft may have been altered or tampered with or changed. Mr. MoLINARI. The reason I ask that is because there's been a press release put out by the Air Line Pilots Association dealing with the Eastern problem. They're making a charge in this statement that I just received that the pre-flight walk-around is not occurring, not taking place now, and that they have videotapes to prove that, in fact, that's what's occurring. It seems to be a legitimate question, and I would like to get your response to their charges. Are you familiar with this charge? Mr. BELGER. No, sir, I am not personally, but I can assure you that the FAA will vigorously pursue those types of charges quickly. Mr. MoLINARI. What I would like to do is ask you to please respond in writing, with the consent of the chairman and subcommittee members, a statement within 48 hours indicating just what steps will be taken to address that problem. [The following was received from Mr. Belger:]

[graphic]

MAR 22 1989

The Honorable Guy V. Molinari
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Molinari:

I am pleased to provide the results of our investigation into allegations made by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) that non-striking Eastern Air Lines (EAL) pilots are not properly performing their safety duties.

The press release to which you made reference yesterday essentially makes two charges: first, that non-striking Eastern pilots have not been properly performing pre-flight inspections on flights from the LaGuardia Airport Shuttle terminal and, second, that these failures have been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and these alleged violations have been observed but not stopped by the FAA.

Early in the strike, union officials contacted the FAA to raise allegations relating to the performance of pre-flight inspections by Eastern Air Lines crewmembers. During one or more of the daily telephone conferences held to exchange strike surveillance information, the union's charges were discussed. Inspectors who were conducting surveillance of EAL's operations were asked to verify the performance of pre-flight procedures. We did not receive any information to validate the union's allegations.

Late last week, the charges of improper or insufficient preflight inspection were repeated by the union to a senior FAA official in Washington. A visit to the union "observation post" at the Marriott Hotel near LaGuardia Airport was arranged. On March 17, two FAA inspectors visited the room in which video and photographic surveillance equipment appeared to be in use. The inspectors reported that the observation post permitted a view of EAL's western-most gates and the eastern ramp area. It did not offer a clear, unobstructed view of all the gates. In fact, the northern-most gates were barely visible. During the visit, the EAL shuttle flights were operating from gates 7 and 8 on the rorthern side of the terminal. From their vantage point in the union observation post, our inspectors were unable to see these operations clearly enough in order to determine unequivocally whether appropriate pre-flight inspection had been conducted.

[ocr errors]

It is the FAA's position that a detailed pre-flight examination of an aircraft is warranted before a crew's first flight of the day or when a crew change is effected. Prior to a crew's subsequent flights in the same aircraft, the crew may perform a more abbreviated pre-flight inspection to determine whether any damage occurred during operation of the aircraft.

The union press release to which you referred yesterday indicates the union belief that the very detailed pre-flight inspection is required prior to each operation of the aircraft. In discussions with union officials which were held yesterday, the union refined its position to reflect the belief that a detailed pre-flight inspection should be done each time the flight number of the operation has been changed, whether or not a crew change has occurred. This understanding is not reflected in the EAL operations manual, which provides for the abbreviated inspection at intermediate stops, nor is there such a requirement in the Federal Aviation Regulations.

During yesterday's visit, our inspectors were provided copies of video tapes made by the union surveillance equipment. The FAA will promptly review that information, and any other data provided by ALPA, and take appropriate action.

Safety of airline operations is our most important responsibility
during this strike. In order to ensure that public confidence in
the safety of the Nation's airlines does not wane, effective
yesterday afternoon I directed FAA inspectors to conduct safety
surveillance on 100 percent of the Eastern flights which operate
anywhere in the United States, until further notice. One of the
items FAA inspectors will check during this surveillance is the
pre-flight inspection. Prompt and fair investigation and
appropriate enforcement action will be taken in any instance
where proper pre-flight inspections are not conducted, or any
other violation of safety regulations appears to have occurred. -
Investigations of two possible infractions related to pre-flight
inspection at LaGuardia Airport are currently underway.

I trust we have satisfactorily responded to your request.

Sincerely,

signed Robert F. Whittington

Robert E. Whittington
Acting Administrator

« PreviousContinue »